Bunds are collapsing! Can bonds be far behind?

Jun 9, 2015

- By Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner
Paris, France

We are working our way through the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

You are probably as disgusted by the bad and ugly as we are. So, today, we linger on the good.

Yes, there are good people all around us. Private life is full of them. A good gardener. A good clergyman. Even a good banker.

But in public life, a good man is hard to find. You can search the nation's capitol, for example, from top to bottom, including the broom closets. You won't find many. Instead, the bright lights of 'public service' attract bugs, pests and parasites. Some are a nuisance. Others are dangerous.

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While we have promised to leave the vermin for tomorrow, we can't help mention one of them, General David Petraeus. He figures in today's story like the monster Cyclops -- he is the challenge that brought forth our hero.

It was in New York City, at the 92nd Street Y, which advertises itself as a "world class cultural and community center," that General Petraeus was scheduled to speak....

But let us interrupt with a quick market update. Stocks sold off a bit more yesterday, with the Dow down 82 points. Gold recovered a couple of bucks, but is still down substantially from the $1,200 level where it was stuck for so long.

The big money is worried...but not yet panicky. Greece is getting ready to bolt the EU. China seems on the verge of a major crisis. And Germany's bonds, which were regarded as the safest credits in the world, are now falling hard. Colleague Tim Price, in London, has the story:

Our favourite "risk-free" reference rate is the yield on the German government 2.5% bond maturing in August 2046. Since mid-April, the yield of this bond has risen by just over 1 percent, from 0.46% to 1.54% at the end of last week. Sounds relatively innocuous, no ? That rise in yield equates to a fall in price of roughly 36%. In just over a month. We thought the collapse in Bund prices was grisly, until we spotted the carnage unfolding in the Austrian government bond market. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the Austrian government 3.8% bond maturing in January 2062. The price of this "risk-free" asset has fallen from roughly 220 to 162 as at the end of last week. That is a fall in price of nearly 60%.

If bunds are collapsing, can bonds be far behind? We'll come back to that soon. In the meantime...

In 2011, General Petraeus was the golden boy of US foreign policy ambitions. He was the man behind 'The Surge' in Iraq. It was less clear than now that the Surge was a disaster. It cost billions. It got thousands of people killed (including another 1,000 American soldiers) and many of the weapons he sent to Iraq ended up in the hands of ISIS - including 2,300 Humvees, 7,400 machine guns and 40 Abrams tanks - which are now helping the Islamic State take control of Iraq!

The event in New York came 3 years later. General Petraeus had been disgraced. He was in charge of America's top "security" agency, the CIA. Yet, he had given the "black book" with the most sensitive information in the country to his mistress (who was also writing a book to explain what a great guy he was). You'd think he'd get the firing squad for that kind of a breach.

But Ray McGovern was onto him. Despite the crime, Petraeus was still was enjoying the fame and adulation of a conquering hero. So great was his appeal, that tickets for the event were sold for $45 each, one of which was bought by aforementioned McGovern.

McGovern first came to our attention earlier in the year, when he attended a speech by Hilary Clinton at George Washington University. He turned his back on the then Secretary of state, which got him arrested for disorderly conduct.

But McGovern was no ordinary protester. He is retired from the CIA, where he used to prepare the president's daily security brief. Now 72 years old - he devotes himself to revealing the misuses of "security information." He didn't like the way the Bush administration twisted the facts to support its invasion of Iraq, for example. He protested the use of torture, and sent back his CIA service medal to his former employer.

The incident with Hilary must have got him on a list. And the snoops must have been on his case before he showed up at the Y expecting to exercise his constitutional rights to peaceful assembly and free speech.

What he particularly wanted to ask General David Petraeus a few questions.

"You can't go in there Ray," said a policeman as McGovern tried to enter the Y.

Ray explained that it was a public forum and that he had bought a ticket. He told the police that he had a right to enter.

So, the police arrested him for disorderly conduct! The cops held him overnight, and then he was released.

By contrast, Petraeus - who had committed a serious crime -- served no time.

More to come...

Bill Bonner is the President & Founder of Agora Inc, an international publisher of financial and special interest books and newsletters.

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